Thousands of Albertans flocked to the Legislature on Sunday, May 25, to see history being made as new Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her cabinet of 11 ministers were sworn in to their new positions. The ceremony followed a historic victory for the New Democratic Party over the Progressive Conservatives, ending a majority government which spanned nearly 44 years and making headline news across Canada. This election has resulted in an entirely new political landscape in Alberta, something which we have not seen since Peter Lougheed’s PCs defeated the incumbent Social Credit party in 1971.
As Canadians wait to see the effects of the massive shift in Alberta’s government, the question faced by ACCD remains: what does this mean for Albertans with disabilities? At the time of this writing, we know little about the NDP’s plans for the provincial budget aside from the few points which were part of their election platform. Assuming that these promises are kept, we are grateful to see no cuts to health care, a system already considered by many to be overworked, underfunded and which has a great impact on the lives of people with disabilities.
There is a speech from the throne scheduled for June 15, an address which both commences the legislature and outlines the government’s agenda for the coming session. We already know that a full budget will not be presented until fall 2015; in the meantime, much remains to be seen in the coming months as the new government gets up to speed and prepares policy to guide Alberta through lean economic times. The new MLAs and Ministers have a lot of work cut out for them, and as their responsibilities mount, so do those of Albertans with disabilities to ensure that our voices continue to be heard.
ACCD will be reaching out and speaking with MLAs new and old, informing them of current disability issues in our province and making sure that they consider the voices of Albertans with disabilities in this time of transition. We strongly encourage everyone to visit their own MLA and in doing so help to ensure that our new government is informed and ready to represent each of us to the best of their ability.
While there are many challenges ahead of us, ACCD welcomes the opportunity to work alongside Alberta’s new government. As always, we are eager to offer our expertise as policies, programs and initiatives are developed that touch the lives of Albertans with disabilities.
RDSP The Registered Disability Savings Plan
Canada is the first country in the world to have a Registered Disability Savings Plan, a tax-deferred savings vehicle that assists people with disabilities and their families in planning for long-term financial security. To increase awareness of this beneficial program, ACCD is heading into Albertan communities to perform RDSP awareness presentations. We encourage you to join us in:
Ponoka, June 23, 2015, 11:15 am
Wabamun, June 18, 2015, 7:00 pm
For more information on these events, please contact the ACCD office at 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.
Annual Open House
Our open house will be taking place on December 4, 2015, at ACCD’s offices. Each year our open house is a time for meeting with old friends and newcomers, to let them know about the work ACCD and ADF are doing and what is to come in the future. We always focus on an exciting aspect of our organization and this year is no exception. We are eager to fill you in, so please join us at ACCD’s office for food, drink and merriment!
Eye on Accessibility
In partnership with the City of Edmonton occupancy inspection team, ACCD’s accessibility assessment program takes us to many interesting buildings both new and old. Recently we had the opportunity to visit the brand new two-storey Canadian Tire in South Edmonton Common. The largest Canadian Tire in existence, the store sports a lot of interesting features including a driving simulator to test out your new tires, a huge 3-dimensional touch display to plan your summer deck and a Legoland for the kids. Most importantly, the store demonstrates a commitment to accessibility and meets or exceeds the standards of the Alberta Building Code.
ACCD is glad to see promising practices in universal design incorporated into this new build and congratulates Canadian Tire on their new store, set for grand opening June 11, 2015.
Apply Now! Education for Life Bursary
The application deadline for ACCD’s 2015 - 2016 Education for Life Bursary is July 15, 2015. Individuals with disabilities seeking to continue their education as post-secondary students are eligible to receive bursaries ranging from $300 to $1,000.
All full- and part-time post-secondary students are eligible for the bursary. Details and an application form can be found on our web site at www.accd.net, or you can contact the ACCD office at 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.
Did You Know? Assistance Dogs in Alberta
The Service Dogs Act became law on January 1, 2009, and, together with the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, ensures public access rights for assistance dog owners with disabilities in Alberta.
Today, assistance dogs are helping more people with a wider range of disabilities than ever before. If you’d like to learn more about assistance dogs and how to apply for one, please contact ACCD.
What Does an ACCD Membership Get You?
Membership benefits include regular updates on disability issues through our newsletter Action News published 2 times a year, Action Notes published 8 times a year, special notices on topics of interest, participation in the annual general meeting and the knowledge that you are taking an active role in supporting full participation of people with disabilities in society.
Whether you need to renew your membership or you are interested in becoming a member for the first time, please visit www.accd.net or call our offices at 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.